Supervisors consider Western SoMa Plan, lots of new condos, and "the purple building"

If "the purple building" becomes condos, nightlife advocates fear clashes with throngs of 11th Street clubgoers.
Mike Koozmin/SF Newspaper Co.

The fate of the “purple building” – which has become caught up in the clash between nightlife and residential interests on the clubgoer-saturated 300-block of 11th Street – remains undecided as the Western SoMa Community Plan heads into its first hearing before the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee on Monday.

As we reported in this week's paper, a unique citizen-based task force has spent the last eight years developing the plan, which will allow thousands of units of new housing – most of it along Folsom Street – to move forward once the plan gets final approval from the board. But the California Music & Culture Association and other nightlife advocates successfully amended the plan to ban new housing on that 11th Street block as the Planning Commission approved it in December.

Yet the commission also decided to grandfather in a 24-home project at 340 11th Street, the so-called purple building, which nightlife advocates say would put those new residents on a collision course with Slim's, DNA Lounge, and other big nightclubs on that busy block. As we went to press, both sides and District 6 Sup. Jane Kim were all hopeful that a compromise was imminent, likely involving switching from residential to office.

But with just days to go before that hearing, building owner Tony Lo still hasn't decided whether to make the change or fight it out in front of the supervisors. His architect John Goldman – whose residential design for the site was placed on hold by the city since shortly after he submitted it in 2005 – had hoped to hear by now but he's still waiting for Lo to make the call.

“Based on my analysis, it looks feasible to change to offices if you want to do it, and I mean feasible financially and architecturally and planning-wise,” Goldman today told the Guardian, referring to what he told Lo.

Meanwhile, Western SoMa Task Force Chair Jim Meko – who has not been supportive of tweaking the plan after all the work he oversaw – yesterday sent out an email blast to stakeholders and supporters urging them to attend Monday's hearing and show support for the plan.

“You don't often get a chance to participate in making decisions about your own neighborhood from start to finish. Some special interest groups are expected to come out of the woodwork to take pot shots at the Plan so the hundreds of participants in this process need to make their voices heard. Your testimony at the hearing next week will make all the difference,” Meko wrote.

The hearing starts at 10am in board chambers in City Hall. This item might have been heard later in the day considering the agenda opens with a continuation of the controversial condo lottery bypass legislation, on which Board President David Chiu and others have been trying to forge a compromise between tenant advocates and homeowner groups. But committee Chair Scott Wiener just told us that item “will be continued. No compromise yet.”


I'm not sure where Mr. Jones comes up with his assertion that the WSoMa Plan will result in "thousands of new units of housing." Perhaps from Mr. Meko. In fact, according to the Planning Department's own figures, the WSoMa Plan contemplates 209 new units over what would be currently allowed under existing zoning. In other words, after 8 years of "citizen's planning" we'll only see an addition of 209 net new units.

The Task Force's claim was that the Plan would help "accommodate change." Instead, it really appears designed to prevent change. In an area so close to jobs and with so much nearby transit infrastructure, the WSoMa Plan seems like a wasted opportunity. What a shame.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

That is probably 209 units per year which is more than twice the 90 units per year historical average.

There are several large sites that are being zoned for housing that allow hundreds of units each. Folsom is upzoned to 65'. There are thousands of units under construction to the north of the district clustered around 9th and Mission. One biggie is the Archstone project at 8th and Harrison.

The WSOMA plan upzones for thousands of new housing units and maintains the unique neighborhood character.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Yeah, Guest, I'm not sure where you're getting that figure, but it's simply not true. The 801 Brannan project alone, which is now the SF Concourse, is being proposed for 432 homes. Yes, the figures I used came from Meko, checked against the plan's tenets on increased density along Folsom and the adjacent alleys.

Posted by steven on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

More homes is the only thing that will lower housing costs.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

How many homes would we have to entitle per annum in order to see downward pressure on price, how much pressure would there be, how long would it keep prices down and what happens after that?

Posted by marcos on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

San Francisco has no interest in crashing its own real estate market - there's a lot of money to be made in real estate here. You could say it's the blood which pulses through the body politic!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

Not real tough to figure out his real motive

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

I oppose all craptacular housing. Design nice housing that plays well with a neighborhood and I'll support it. But nice housing costs money and the goal here is to make money.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

nobody forces you to live in a place you do not like.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

We must stop building housing! Only by shutting off the supply can we reduce its price! If we could prevent new housing, our city would become affordable again. Classical economics do not apply to SF!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

House prices always rise over time in SF, ain't nothing you can do about it.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

Especially when you personally profit from that.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

They tried that and it sent prices through the roof. Total failure.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

cutting off supply lowers the price on the demand side? tht's some amazing crack you're smoking.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 15, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

But we probably need multiple residential high-rises in the SE part of the city, and along major transit routes, to make any material impact. And we should.

But the more, the better, obviously. People also need to be more flexible about living in adjacent counties.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

Make with the numbers, a back of the napkin set answers would suffice, just provide enough documentation to justify your work.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

Basic sullpy/demand dynamics apply, as you well know.

Your reasons to suppress new build is personal greed. Luckily, you have zero influence.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

noise and petty criminality that comes with nightclubs and their seedy environs, so I doubt this will be an issue that amny can get worked up about.

Posted by anon on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Perhaps marcos is mistaken on how much housing the WSoMa Plan will actually produce.

On page 4 of the December 6th Planning Commission Draft Resolution, Planning staff states that,

"The Plan would also support the creation of over 2,800 new housing units in the plan area; this represents a capacity increase of over 200 units above existing zoning. ..... the plan adds modest amounts of new development potential in strategic locations, and most new development would take place on parcels that currently contain low-scale commercial uses, vacant buildings, or surface parking."

It seems incredible: The WSoMa Task Force worked 8 years to deliver a plan that adds 200 units above much older zoning. Is this considered a victory for "citizen's planning"? Unfortunately, the Task Force was always well known for its hostility to new housing. The Plan is not terribly bold and it appears difficult to justify the time spent on it.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

If we kept even one single luxury condo unit from being built in the Western SOMA as compared to what EN would have done, then the task force's work is worth every volunteer hour.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 8:12 am

Or so sez the condo owner who profits from a lack of new supply of homes.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 8:38 am

So sez the guy who got his start landing in the North Mission and Western SOMA as a gay refugee from Texas who wants for others to have the same opportunity as I did.

Luxury condos kill communities.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:11 am

genuinely suffer from foreign dictatorships, torture etc. and not some gay boy who think he'll get his skinny white ass laid more in San Francisco, and thinks that the rest of us owe him that.

Building a million dollar home for someone who has succeeded does not take away a housing unit from someone who is a failure.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:25 am Or maybe click on the adult section to find some stress relief.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:37 am

SF expect everything to be given to them on a plate, just so they can live where they would like to.

I have far more sympathy for someone who is SF-born and who now cannot afford it, than for an interloper like marcos who wants to come here for nothing more than because he would like to.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:55 am

Because that's giving TIC owners an upgrade on a plate

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

If I can help someone, I always will.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

You really, truly hate San Francisco and San Franciscans.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:43 am

want other people to pay just so that you can live somewhere that we both know you cannot afford.

Not everyone comes here with a sense of entitlement, you know?

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:54 am

equals hypocrisy.

How much do you pay Marcos to live here?

The door has come off its hinges.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:08 am

he said he had a rent-controlled place for 11 years. The fact that he was evicted indicates that his rent was probably substantially below market. So the subsidy could easily have been a couple of years' worth of market rent.

And for that we get, what exactly? A whiney little shit who posts here 24/7 and apparently achieves nothing of worth or merit to the city.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:17 am

Oh, anon, how clueless you are. You have but a hammer and to you everything else is a nail.

Our landlord did not evict us because he wanted to squeeze more money out of us. We were on good terms throughout our 11 year month to month no rent increases tenancy. He once said he wanted to raise the rent, I asked him to inform me of such in writing, but he never did.

He liquidated his San Francisco holdings in 2002 by selling it to a nonprofit. The nonprofit bought the building with 1996 Prop A Affordable Housing funds to build an inpatient drug treatment center run by and probably for Native Americans.

The fact that public dollars were involved meant that the taxpayers gave us a tax free chunk of change in relocation benefits, and that is how we got over the hump to home ownership. We were the only one of three tenancies to remain in the neighborhood after the eviction.

So if you were a property tax payer in San Francisco in 2002, then you contributed to paying for our down payment. Fuck you very much!

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:55 am

line, so thanks for confirming that you're a taker and not a giver, as we knew anyway.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

King Anon, heir to the throne of Emperor Norton.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

shouldn't be subsidizing people who could easily live elsewhere is not supported by any evidence that I know of.

I do feel some compassion for kids who grow up in Sf and then find they cannot afford to live here. I have no compassion for someone who freely chooses to move here knowing that they cannot afford it, and then whines that other people should bail them out.

Does SF really need any more self-abosrbed, whiney, white gay males like marcos?

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

Yes, the law specifically said that funds from anon's account would be transferred into marcos' account, we did this at gunpoint.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

city that you clearly could not afford was predicated on a sense of entitlement and a willingness to take subsidies, not because you had a genuine need, but merely because of a youthful whim.

You were not disabled, or an illegal immigrant, or non-white, or had kids, or disadvantaged in any way. You came here purely out of entitlement and privilege.

And that is no sound basis for public policy, which is why people like you are not effectively estopped from moving here.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

The best part is that your money is now in my pocket. I've afforded to live here for almost 24 years, never missed a beat on my housing payments.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

managed to elevate yourself to a shitty condo on one of worst blaock in the city anyway. BFD.

And anyway, according to you, your taxes have subsidized people like me far more than the other way about. Make your mind up.

I don't mind helping people in genuine need. A self-absorbed gay boy who moves here to get laid more doesn't come close to that on my hierarchy of need, and it is pitiful that you put yourself in the same category as those who genuinely suffer.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

Seething cauldron you are.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

In your heart, you know I am right.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

You are the mirror image of Arthur Evans' rigid dogmatic progressive.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

Gay boys unwelcome, huh? You are pitiful, and you are not subsidizing anyone if you own property. Look at the tax code. state and federal. Look at the bailouts, the tax writeoffs for defaulters. Look at the dramatically suppressed interest rates. Government steals from successful workers to protect longtime homeowners.

And look at the prices landlords paid for rent-controlled buildings. They got bargains because of rent control. Then they complain about "subsidies.'' Please. Stop your dishonest whining.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

be asking me to help pay for some gay guy to live in SF.

If he wants to move here, then let him pay for it himself.

Being gay is not a disability.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

for being gay? You'll pretend you didn't because you are dishonest.

And you did not help pay for him to live here. You are bigoted against renters in that religious-cult way of so many property owners in this country. They get handouts galore, destroy the economy with their stupidity and greed, blame everyone else for it and then beg for more handouts on the grounds that they are good people just struggling to get by. You are not superior citizens. You are not better people. Your Prop 13 is no more reasonable than rent control. Your tax credits, writeoffs and exemptions are transfers of wealth from hard-working wage earners.

Did you get all those goodies because you are disabled? No.
Real estate is not a need. Yet it has become an entitlement, and the money shifted toward it will come out of Social Security and Medicare benefits that many of us actually earned.

None of that is true of rent control, which limits landlords from gouging and offsets their Prop 13 benefits. If landlords want out of rent control, they should be forced to repay every break they ever got on real estate, including the gap between the purchase price of an unregulated building and what they paid for theirs if they bought a building after regulation.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

others to subsidize his living in SF, when the sense of entitlement he feels to live here is based on being gay.

Posted by anon on Feb. 24, 2013 @ 10:57 am

Basically, you, Calvin Welch and Willie Brown bought us into our home.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:28 am

who accept the subsidies of the mortgage interest deduction and Prop 13, right?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

It's simply a discount on what you have to pay out.

The only people who pay for my interest deduction, property tax deduction and Prop 13 "subsidy" are people who are richer than me, and therefore much richer than you.

Are you telling me that you care about them?

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

If you and I make the same income and I rent while you have a mortgage with all the attached deductions, I pay higher taxes than you do. Other than bias toward property owners and social engineering, there is no reason you should be able to keep more of your money than I do, transferring the tax burden to me. This is absolutely a subsidy.

Prop 13 has driven up income and sales taxes since 1978. It allows you to stay in a place you might not be able to afford otherwise. I'm OK with that, but only if you agree that rent control is not a subsidy.

Remember that he landlord buys a building at a price dictated by the presence of rent control. He or she knew the deal going in. They did not compete in an uncontrolled market to obtain the property. Thus, their inability to charge uncontrolled market rents does not constitute a subsidy. The controls on profits merely offset the benefits of the deal.
There are plenty of uncontrolled buildings available. If landlords don't want the constraints of rent control, they need to buy the uncontrolled ones. If they can't afford the uncontrolled ones, they should be grateful for the controls and the affordability they create for owners as well as renters.

To address the foolish belief that newer tenants pay more because older ones pay less ..... I now benefit from rent control. When I moved in, though, I paid the highest rent in the building. I did not, for a second, believe myself to be subsidizing another tenant. I competed in a marketplace of my choosing, and did not believe my landlord asked for more rent because others paid less. He asked what a bunch of people were willing to pay. He has owned my building since 1990. He could afford to charge 2001 rents for everyone and clean up. He doesn't because he is not motivated to meet a limited profit as determined by his costs. He is motivated to get as much as he can. So raising my rent to 2013 levels would spare newer tenants not a dime.

And the supply and demand canard: Removing rent control now might lower rents slightly and temporarily, as some people were forced out of the city and supply increased. But as soon as everyone settled in to the available units, landlords would gouge because small vacancy rates would return and make moving untenable.
This is partly why we have rent control. The other part is that Prop 13 controlled owners' costs and restricted supply that tenants could buy as longtime owners could no longer afford their taxes. They balance each other out. Get rid of Prop 13 if you dump rent control, or you don't have a free market.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 4:01 pm